"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

NPR Interview

Well shoot! What a thing to wake up to. I was just on NPR. Come noon (9am PST) you can stream the audio. Even sounded half-way intelligent, to boot. The piece is about the blogs of war, and the reporter asked me about back-to-iraq.com. I'm near the end of the segment.

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Shades of Gibson

Just saw this today on the BBCs reporter-blog:

The port of Umm Qasr is being de-mined by dolphins attached to cameras. Apparently they go down and see something suspicious, then come back and tell their handler there's something suspicious. He then gives them an explosive charge, they take it down, put it next to the suspicious object, come back, it blows up, and then they go down and look at it again!

It sounds implausible, but the Australians are using them, and everyone around here - including a very senior American commander - says it works. I hope to see it for myself when the Sir Galahad gets to Umm Qasr.

Shades of William Gibson and Jones, the smack-addicted navy-hardware-augmented dolphin in Johnny Mnemnonic. Conflict brings about all sorts of strange innovaion. Remember the remote-control rats? Once again the truth proves stranger than fiction.

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Coverage Redux

I was just phone-interviewed by a reporter from NPR doing a story about back-to-iraq.com, asking why I supported the site. Chris should be in Turkey by now, by the way. She said the piece would most likely be on all things considered tomorrow. I'm a little excited.

Also, Frank and I have been emailing about what's going on with aljzeera.net. Since I know I have a number of non-technical readers, I'll be posting a primer on internet hacking/information warfare shortly.

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Outlandish Josh is Going Soft

As some of my friends have had the dubious honor of witnessing, I've been engaging in nausiatingly saccharine public behavior with this really lovely woman lately. Just to warn you, I don't think this is going to let up any time soon. She writes me this in an email, "i'm smiling like a kid who just got her first big wheel and am at the top of a big hill!" I dance a little jig in my living room. We're talking about artistic collaboration and traveling around together. Heady talk, unconscious and honest, the naggling bounds of doubt strain, snapping free as the protective armor of urbanity crashes useless to the floor. I'm becoming a softie.

Also, humor! The onion has done it again: Everyone. Must. Read. This. They really are america's finest news source.

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Refresh Connections

I've been trading a few emails with Luke over the past day or two. He's on Spring Break now, and doing some fine extracurricular sociological studies on the war polls. We've been discussing protest tactics and the utility of Civilization II as a tool for educating world leaders. I pointed out that it teaches some important lessons about power and the peskyness of partisan and fanatic millitary units. Luke responds that going to war as a democracy without the UN wonder of the world is usually political suicide, and perhaps the game needs re-designing given recent events. I say wait and see.

I'm also making plans to sublet the spare room in his apartment for much of the summer. Hopefully Peter and I will be landing a fairly hectic bit of consulting work, which would keep me busy and give me the necessary bank to make that a reality. Not counting any chickens yet, though.

I've also been doing some phone-tag with "The Girth". He's in touch with our USAF-enlisted man JD, who's alive and well in some undisclosed middle-eastern location. Thinking about him, I'm glad he ran up all that credit card debt. See, when JD enlisted a couple years ago, it looked like he was going to be on the forward intelligence/special forces kind of track. But it turns out he has bad credit, which apparently makes you a security liability, which means he's flying in cargo aircraft, which means he's a lot less likely to end up full of holes, which is good news from where I'm standing.

Spent last night in stitches with Sasha. That woman cracks me up something fierce.

Finally, Mark made noises which would suggest he'd be returning from Equador in the next month as well. Perhaps a grand reunion at Ren Fayre is in the cards? I can only hope so.

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Oscar Notes

Steve Martin is a good man. A sardonic "nice to see they cancled all the glitz," the line that leads off the show. After all the talk of restraint and no red carpet, it was tits and tans and shiny stuff everywhere. But that's Hollywood. (Sincerely) "I just want you to know, the proceeds from tonight's events will be split up and shared amongst several enormous corperations." Genius. This man has wit to spare.

All the chesty women with healthy looking arms and backs were a welcome sight, making the willowy wisps that traditionally dominate the scene look positively twiggy. Perhaps bulimia is finally going out of fashion. Fertility is in, a victory for life. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In spite of a more or less unspoken moratorium on politicizing the event, there were inevitable references to global events. Two ABC news updates on the war didn't help the suspension of disbelief. Hardly a segment went by where one wasn't reminded as to the context in which this very American ritual was unfolding.

In all the statements made, I was reminded again of the difference between artistic and bare-knuckle politics. Michal Moore -- who I was happy to see win for Bowling for Columbine, though I'm not sure it was a "documentary" in the traditional sense -- made some heavy-handed statements that seemed hokey and rehearsed. Got booed for it too, even if he was more or less telling the truth. The atmosphere in the room reminded me of yesterday at the protest when I saw a man pick up some sticks and prepare to fling them at the cops. A chorus of, "no!"s arose from the crowd, and he was physically restrained from completing his act.

Moore's comments seemed similarly pointless and confrontational given the context, and while there's a wide gulf between tossing sticks at police officers and calling Bush's election fictional, at this juncture they serve about as much purpose. Had he bothered to work his way around to it artfully it might have gone over, but his language was that of a protest rally, not an acceptance speech. It was a disingenuous use of the platform, and as such it suffered.

On the other hand, Adrien Brody, Best Actor of The Piano, pulled off some kind of king hell trifecta; winning the Oscar, kissing Hallie Berry full on the mouth, and then running long in his acceptance and shuting up the orchestra to deliver a spontanious and deeply honest statement wishing for peace and safety to all in Iraq. Standing ovations all around, a clear expression of what needed saying in the way it aught to be said under the circumstances. It was for me the high point of the proceedings. There's video popping up here (currently you can review Moore, but not Brody).

Sarandon scored points in my book as well for flashing a peace sign and then seductively and poetically invoking the necessity of art as a transformative force. Many others made nudge-nudge wink-wink statements against war, or at least in support of peace.

Finally, Peter O'Toole reminded me that spoken language is fast becoming a lost art in this country. Not only are we a nation which cannot listen, we are fast becoming a nation that fails too at articulation. We have little enough of worth to say it seems, and are forgetting even how to say it, how to form the syllables, in the words of the Bard to "Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue." Sad bit, that.

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Friday Night

Anxiety of all kinds is still running strong. I've been falling behind on everything this week, enervated by war and desperation. Jeremy hooked me up with free tickets to the current Richard Foreman show, which is miles better than the last. Foreman is strange, such an un-checked barrage of stuff coming from deep in the root of his twisted mind and onto the stage, you kind of have to let it wash over you and take what you can get. Sometimes it hangs together, sometimes it don't, really all depends on the signal to noise ratio. This one got me for a few good stretches, but left me idling for others. Still, good show vibe at the end.

In one of the down moments where my brain returned to personal stuff, I flashed on some unpleasant perspective about what's going on in the world now. I thought about victors writing history, about how a lot of young people are for this war, about how Team Bush was able to frame the debate, about how anti-war people are often called pro-Saddam. I thought that if it goes well how the history books would record the resistance as a footnote, if that. It was melancholy, but also somehow peaceful to imagine the moment as seen through the rose glasses of history.

Afterwards we repaired to good old Sahara East for great chow and hookah. It felt upliftingly cosmopolitan to munch on humus and drink some Turkish coffee and bob my head to Egyptian music. A little alice in wonderland nicotine buzz to float it all and I was in heaven until a little static with Sasha iced my mood. It was nothing really, but a kind of sobering moment to realize where I am if one 30-second phone call can give me an additudinal 180 like that.

And now I rest for tomorrow's protest. I will take pictures and tell you all how it goes.

Semi-Random links: Pro War civvies can loose their cool and, to be fair and balanced, so can I (scroll down about 5 comments, look for the all-caps screaming).

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Yeah, It's On

Like you didn't already know. I'm headed up on the MTA today. Wonder what that will be like. Maybe I'll take pictures.

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This Has To Stop

Ok. That's it. I'm turning off the TV. I'm going to take a nice long bike ride and then I'm going to eat some Sorbet in a very hot bath and then I'm going to write and read and maybe play some videogames. Tomorrow I'm headed up to hang with Peter, so should be pretty isolated from the media, though he does have cable. This 24-hour-news lifestyle is unhealthy and non-productive unless you've got someone to rant at who pays you to spew.

Ok, one more link: a great script of what an extended war/anti-war debate might look like.

I've been thinking more about how what what I do here has been changing. On the world wide web, many blogs occupy a kind of "middleman" status, giving readers links to other sites and a little context. This adds a lot of value to the whole thing, and I'm all for fulfilling this role, especially for those people who check this site who don't regularly go to a lot of the other sites I frequent. On the other hand, I always wanted this site to be an endpoint of sorts, a source of content, a place to find interesting things. I feel like lately I've been doing this a little less. As the war thing becomes more and more psychologically inescapable, I feel that often I fall into the pattern of being just another antiwarblogger.

Some of this has to do with the blog tool I've been employing, which I like for its convenience and for comments, but which I realize tends to drive me to writing shorter pieces because I'm not sitting down in my favorite text editor and ruminating. Some of this has to do with where I'm at in life. I'm very taken with a young woman and still not sure how to talk about that here. I'm also kind of living in a period of unceartanty, not just with war and so forth, but with work and art and everything. I'm starting to feel like I'm falling behind where I want to be, that I'm becoming pent-up. I need focus, an outlet, some purpose or goal. I feel as though I'm beginning to loose the forward forward momentum I brought back from my most recent journey to the Wast. I'm calm, but uncertain, and likely still a little hung-over from St Patrick's day. And I'm talking about myself too much. Time to turn off, jump on the bike, cue up some tunes and head out into the still American night.

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